nintendo switch

Pixelkin 2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Nintendo Switch

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Make no mistake: the Nintendo Switch is the hottest video game product you can purchase this holiday season. The unique hybrid system offers both traditional home console use as well as complete handheld portability.

After a generally disappointing showing in the Wii U, Nintendo has roared back this year with huge titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Most impressively they’ve expanded their third-party support with lots of welcome indie titles like Stardew Valley and Shovel Knight. There’s also some more mature offerings courtesy of Bethesda with Doom, Wolfenstein, and Skyrim. Simply put, Nintendo has had one of the best console launch years in history, and it should only get better from here.

Younger Kids

Snipperclips – Cut it Out, Together

Nintendo Switch

A launch title for the Nintendo Switch, Snipperclips provides a unique puzzle design for two players. You play as both the paper and the scissors, cutting each other to form shapes in order to solve a series of puzzles. It’s simple yet brilliant game design that you can play solo with both controllers, but really shines cooperatively.

Also available on: N/A

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

mario kart 8

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is just 2014’s Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U plus all the DLC tracks and drivers and enhanced HD graphics. Mario Kart 8 happens to also be one of the best in the long-running series, featuring the refined controls, a huge assortment of drivers, vehicles, and tracks, and seamlessly integrated online multiplayer.

Also available on: N/A

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a remake of a 1989 platformer on the Sega Master System. The remake offers new hand-drawn graphics, a female playable character, and the ability to switch between old and new audio and visual settings. It’s a solid side-scrolling platformer with classic design and modern features.

Also available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

Arms

arms

A motion-controlled fighting game sounds horrendous but Nintendo may have stumbled upon something special. Multiple fighters and arms-styles can be configured to best suit your playstyle as you square off from a near-first-person view to swing your comically large but effective limbs.

Also available on: N/A

Splatoon 2

 

The first Splatoon was one of the few bright spots on the Wii U, and this Switch sequel provides more of the same great online multiplayer action. Transforming a third person arena shooter into a paintball match is a great way to make it family-friendly. Splatoon goes a step further by offering an intriguingly goofy world of squid vendors and a head-bobbing soundtrack.

Also available on: N/A

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

mario + rabbids

“It’s like XCOM but with Mario” is not a sentence I expected to see in 2017. Yet Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle presents a fantastic tactical strategy game when Ubisoft’s Rabbids drop into the Mushroom Kingdom unannounced.

Also available on: N/A

LEGO Worlds

lego worlds

LEGO + Minecraft is an easy sell, but LEGO Worlds ended up being less than the sum of its parts. Still, LEGO gameplay is always kid-friendly and intuitive, and offers split-screen and online multiplayer. LEGO Worlds lets you earn gold bricks through quests and exploration as well as build your world brick-by-brick.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Super Mario Odyssey

super mario odyssey

The moment we’ve all been waiting for: a new single player 3D Mario game. Super Mario Odyssey does not disappoint, with a wide array of beautiful worlds to explore, secrets to discover, puzzles to solve, and collectibles to collect. Super Mario Odyssey retains what makes Mario the king of gaming and also adds fun new elements, like turning Mario’s trademark cap into a sentient creature who can possess others, adding an entirely new dynamic to every encounter.

Also available on: N/A

Stardew Valley: Collector’s Edition

stardew valley

Charming, pixelated farming sim Stardew Valley was my personal Game of the Year last year. The Collector’s Edition, which released this year, is mostly an excuse to buy a physical version, which includes a pull-out map, digital soundtrack, and a guide book. Cooperative multiplayer is slated to arrive sometime next year.

Also available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2

lego

The LEGO games have consistently remained one of the best go-to family-friendly series over the last decade. If you’ve played any of them, you’ve played them all. Marvel’s tone and characters mesh particularly well with LEGO’s silly storytelling and style. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 tells a tale of time-travel, meshing together multiple realms from the modern MCU, including Asgard, Sakaar, and Wakanda.

Also available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

Older Kids

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild was one of the most anticipated games of 2017. As a launch title for the Nintendo Switch it became an instant system seller, providing an enormous, detailed open world that let you tackle it however you wanted – including waltzing right up to the final area after the opening. It’s a hallmark of interlocking game designs that put as much freedom as possible in the hands of the player.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will go down as one of the all-time best games, Zelda or otherwise, and should absolutely be your first purchase on the Nintendo Switch.

Also available on: Wii U

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

One of the few games on this mega-list that’s not actually released quite yet, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is another big RPG coming to Switch, after the Wii’s Xenoblade Chronicles and Wii U’s Xenoblade Chronicles X. These games mostly stand on their own but feature giant open worlds and real-time combat, not unlike an MMO.

Also available on: N/A

Mature Teens & Parents

Doom

Doom

The hyper-violent first-person shooter wouldn’t seem like a good fit for a Nintendo system, but sometimes you just need to rip and tear your way through some demons. This Switch port of one of last year’s most satisfying remakes is mostly intact – minus the Snapmap editor, and you’ll need to download the multiplayer separately.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

skyrim

It’s usually not exciting to see a 2011 game ported into a different console, but Skyrim is anything but usual. Being able to play one of the best RPGs of the modern era on the go certainly has its perks.

Also available on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

arms

ARMS Is Out Today For Nintendo Switch

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One of the more anticipated new titles for the Nintendo Switch, ARMS is out today in stores and Nintendo eShop for $59.99.

“With ARMS, we are delivering a new and exciting type of game that takes advantage of everything Nintendo Switch can do,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “The launch of ARMS kicks off a summer of competitive gaming for Nintendo Switch, with fun multiplayer games Splatoon 2 and Pokkén Tournament DX also launching over the next few months.”

ARMS is a fighting game that uses the motion-control of the Switch’s unique handheld Joy-Con controller. Each Joy-Con represents one of the fighter’s extendable arms. Ten fighters are available, and each fighter can equip different kinds of arms that change their movement, attacks, and abilities.

Multiple local and online modes are available. Team Fight tethers two fighters together versus another team of two. V-Ball and Hoops let you play modified versions of volleyball and basketball respectively. Party Match lets up to 20 players join a lobby for a variety of game modes. Ranked Matches track your wins and losses.

Nintendo promises continued post-launch support, adding more fighters, stages, and arms as free updates.

During E3 this week Nintendo livestreamed an ARMS Open Invitational. The tournament ran on June 14 and pitted four expert competitive gamers with select E3 attendees. The final round pitted the last person standing against the game’s producer, Kosuke Yabuki. You can watch the First Round, the Semifinals, and the Grand Finals.

A new Neon Yellow Joy-Con is also launching today. It’s inspired by the game’s bright colors. It’s retailing for $79.99. The Joy-Con can be freely mixed and matched with other Joy-Con colors.

ARMS has been rated E for Everyone with Cartoon Violence.

 

super mario odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey Will Be Playable For the First Time at E3

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Nintendo has provided its first details into its E3 2017 showcase. As in previous years, Nintendo will forgo a live presentation in favor of a video event called Nintendo Spotlight: Live at E3. The Nintendo Spotlight presentation will kick off E3 by airing on June 13 at 9 am Pacific/12 pm Eastern.

The E3 Spotlight will focus on the Nintendo Switch games coming out in the latter half of 2017, including the biggest release, Super Mario Odyssey.

Following the E3 Spotlight presentation will be a Nintendo Treehouse live stream. That show will provide a more in-depth and hands-on look at upcoming games for both the Switch and Nintendo 3DS. It will be hosted by members of the Nintendo Treehouse marketing and social team and include developer commentary.

“Our various E3 activities will showcase the next steps for Nintendo Switch, from a summer of social competitive gaming to a holiday season highlighted by a milestone Mario adventure,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, President and COO at Nintendo of America. “With Nintendo Treehouse: Live at E3, fans at home can watch in-depth gameplay of Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS games launching this year.”

Nintendo will have a sizable presence on the show floor, where they’ll be presenting Super Mario Odyssey for the first time. Nintendo is marketing Odyssey as a true 3D sandbox title for the Mario series – the first seen since 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube.

Two Nintendo Switch tournaments will be live streamed from the E3 showfloor. The first is the 2017 Splatoon 2 World Inkling Invitational. It’s the first Splatoon 2 competitive tournament of its kind, comprised of qualifying teams from Japan, Europe, Australia/NZ, and the US. It will be streamed on June 13. Splatoon 2 is scheduled for release on July 21.

The second tournament is the 2017 ARMS Open Invitational, which will feature Nintendo’s upcoming motion-controlled fighting game. The tournament will take place on June 14; ARMS launches on June 16.

More details about Nintendo’s E3 Spotlight and games will be announced as the event draws closer. E3 2017 runs from June 13-15.

PAX South 2017

PAX South: Hands-On with Nintendo Switch, Zelda, Splatoon

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Nintendo was in full force at PAX South last weekend. A large, permanently crowded booth stood near the front of the show floor. You could wait in line for hours to play half a dozen titles for the newly announced Nintendo Switch. The marquee title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, had its own roped off section within the booth area. That was a separate line that filled up instantly, creating a three hour wait to play the 20 minute demo throughout the weekend.

Thankfully I got a chance to meet privately with Nintendo and get some quality time with the Switch.

The first thing that hit me upon seeing the Switch for the first time was the tiny size of the detachable Joy-Con controllers. They slide right off the handheld screen and fit in the palm of your hand as you wrap your fingers around. The wrist strap easily slides onto each half. Depending on the game you can hold one half like a super tiny controller with both hands, or grip each in one hand.

The motion control felt like a huge step up from the Wiimote. It still creates the gimmicky toy feel of the Wii, but motion control games like 1, 2, Switch and Arms felt fine-tuned, precise and intuitive. That feeling of bubbles or tiny balls within the Joy-Con uses accelerometer and gyrometer technology to track precise movement, and it worked really well in everything we tried.

The two halves of the Joy-Con can attach to the handheld screen to create the portable mode of the Nintendo Switch. It looked and felt similar to the Wii U gamepad, but more smooth and far less bulky. The buttons all felt responsive and everything was in the place you’d expect. I was also really impressed with the seamless transition from pulling the handheld screen out of the dock and vice-versa. Instant switch from portable to home console.

For a more traditional controller experience the Pro controller was up to speed. It felt decently weighty and more substantial than the Wii and Wii U’s equivalent Pro controller. For serious gaming while the Switch is docked, the Pro controller definitely felt like the preferred way to play. Unfortunately it’s sold separately.

With any console it all comes down to the games. Here are the games I played for the Nintendo Switch at PAX South.

Nintendo Switch1, 2, Switch

1, 2, Switch is very much the Wii Sports of the Nintendo Switch. It’s a large collection of mini-games designed to show off the Switch’s impressive motion controls. It will also serve as a big draw for party games. Like the Wii, it could serve as a major incentive for folks that aren’t necessarily big on video games.

I tried a number of games that used the two halves of the Joy-Con for one-on-one competition. Most games could be played without even looking at the screen, and instead looking at your opponent. You could play as dueling gunslingers trying to shoot each other by being the first to raise your Joy-Con, or try to catch each other’s samurai swords with your hands as your opponent swung their Joy-Con downward. There was even an awkward milking game as you both used your controllers to quickly milk a cow.

Each game was designed to play in just a few seconds and played a short, funny video with real actors showing how to do it. The whole experience was very much designed for groups of people to take turns. I was shocked to learn that 1, 2, Switch is not going to be a pack-in title like Wii Sports was in the U.S. Even more shocked to learn the price tag – $50!

1, 2, Switch will be available at launch on March 3.

Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together!

Of all the Switch games I saw Snipperclips was the most delightfully surprising. It’s a cooperative puzzle game designed for two players to play locally, each with one half of the Joy-Con. Each person controls one of the cute animated paper figures in a world made out of graph paper and doodles. Each figure can jump and rotate their bodies.

Nintendo Switch

Their signature ability is to cut each other. That sounds like anything but cute, but it’s incredibly endearing thanks to their adorable animations. You cut shapes out of each other to try and solve puzzles, like pushing buttons or getting a basketball into a hoop. There are multiple ways to solve each puzzle. The design reminded me a lot of Scribblenauts with the cute paper world and free-form puzzle solving.

Snipperclips will be a $19.99 downloadable title. This is could be a big hit for the Switch, and do an excellent job of offering a unique cooperative experience. It’s not quite a launch title but will release later in March.

Arms

Nintendo SwitchAt first glance Arms looks like another gimmicky motion control game. While it does use the motion control of the Joy-Con, Arms is a much deeper fighting game than I was expecting. In Arms you play as a fighter with extendable arms, powered entirely by the motion of your actual hands and arms while holding the Joy-Con. We played in split-screen on TV Mode and each player needs to have both halves of the Joy-Con in each hand to control your two separate arms.

Like traditional fighting games, Arms has multiple fighters, arenas, and even a variety of arm types. Fighting is balanced on the holy triangle of attack-grab-block. Performing each move requires a simple flick of your wrist. “There’s no complex button controls, everything you need is right here,” said J.C. Rodrigo, Manager of Product Marketing for Nintendo Treehouse. Your fighters can also block and dash around the arenas. One arena we fought in was like a mad scientist’s laboratory. You could hide behind vats of liquid or destroy them.

Motion controls for a fighting game definitely presented a learning curve. Once I found a decent rhythm I could see the fun potential. Time will tell if the game’s depth will win over fighting game fans, or if the motion controls will seem too bizarre.

Arms is due out in the first half of 2017.

Nintendo SwitchSuper Bomberman R

Bomberman was easily the most disappointing title I played for the Switch. The last Bomberman game I played was on the Nintendo 64, and it didn’t look like much had changed in the last 20 years. The game played in a single top-down arena as four players (me against 3 AI bots) dropped bombs in a destructible environment. Chaos ensues as you try to explode your rivals while watching out for enemy (and your own) bombs.

It felt very simple and archaic, but the full game boasts dozens of levels, and both cooperative and competitive play. It will release alongside the Nintendo Switch on March 3 for a ridiculous price tag of $49.99.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

“Did you ever play the first Zelda? The very first one?” said Rodrigo. “This game is more akin to that.” So began my all-too-short experience with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A special 20 minute demo was designed for press and fan previews. It starts Link off in a small temple. Upon exiting you’re treated to a massive vista that shows the scope and gorgeous level design of the world. I even got fed the classic Bethesda line: “If you see it, you can go there.”

Nintendo Switch

The classic third person action-adventure gameplay felt perfect, but more impressive was how much that familiar gameplay is being pushed forward in this new entry. There’s a full-blown crafting and cooking system as you gather ingredients. There’s loot that feels more like a Diablo-esque ARPG, and you can easily switch weapons on the fly with the D-pad. You’ll need to switch weapons as they’ll break after enough uses. Enemies can be disarmed – and can disarm you. The real physics in the game, from lightning striking your metal armor from the dynamic weather system, to chopping down a tree and rolling it down a hill to trample foes was astonishing.

It’s entirely possible that Breath of the Wild could very well redefine what it means to be an open world game. The term has been over-saturated ever since Bethesda ran away with it with Elder Scrolls and Fallout. As my friendly Nintendo reps pointed out, Zelda was really the progenitor of the whole genre.

I asked about the differences between the Wii U and Switch versions. The Wii U will require a portion of the game to be installed on the system, about three GB. Sound quality, mostly ambient, will be slightly inferior on the Wii U. Finally the total resolution in TV mode will be slightly lower for the Wii U (Normal resolution is 720p on handheld, 1080p when docked for TV). Content and graphics will be exactly the same.

The main selling point for the Switch over the Wii U will be in portability. If you want to play Zelda on the go, you need the Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launches for both systems on March 3.

Splatoon 2

Nintendo switchSplatoon 2 wasn’t available in the private press meeting but I got a chance to play it later on the show floor. I got to to play two matches, and I made sure to try out the new dual gun and jetpack setup.

The gameplay was exactly like the first Splatoon. Two teams of four are dropped onto a map. In the demo each player could choose one of four weapons with the goal of painting more of the map with their color. You can swim through your color paint to reload your paint gun and avoid enemy fire. Getting knocked out caused you to respawn at the entrance for a few seconds.

It felt just like Splatoon in all the right ways. I played on the Pro controller and motion control was on by default. That sounds horrifying (and it was at first) but the Switch is vastly improved with motion controls.

There wasn’t much new compared to the first game and Nintendo seems to be approaching this from a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” angle. I suspect that enough people missed out on the Wii U that many titles for the Switch will simply by relaunches of Wii U games (see also: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe). Splatoon 2 very much feels like that. On the other hand Splatoon was a darn fine game.

Splatoon 2 releases this Summer.